ROMAN JEWELS

The Romans for goldsmithing took as a model both Etruscan and Greek goldsmithing, and even a touch of the Persian Orient. Undoubtedly, however, the first goldsmiths who served Rome were Etruscans. But the Roman goldsmith also had rings with an engraved lozenge, of Greek derivation; or the revolving beetle. The jewels made of gold and gems multiplied towards the end of the Republican age and especially starting from the Augustan age (27 BC-14 AD), with the opening of the oriental markets from which the precious stones came.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above all, pearls, fished in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, were widespread, used not only in jewelry, but also to adorn clothes and even shoes. Pliny and Tacitus were saddened not a little by so much waste of money due to female vanity, but they did not think about the craftsmanship and commerce that flourished, feeding the population.

The matron would dress and be jeweled thanks to the ornatrices slaves, dress practices and combinations to bring out her beauty. They were concerned with creating harmony between clothes, shoes and jewels. The dresses of Roman women were among the most beautiful, because they were not complicated but fluctuating, light and feminine, without constraints but in full respect of the body, and of pastel and lively colors, as they will not have later. Even the jewels were inimitable, with that characteristic dark golden appearance of 22-karat gold as it was used at the time, more attentive to taste than to the weight of the object.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Roman goldsmith artisans were already gathered in guilds at that time: chisellers, gilders, goldbeats, pearl merchants. Evidence of this is the frieze of the house of the Vetii in Pompeii, buried with Herculaneum in 79 AD which provides a picture that documents the goldsmith's activity: spherical wedge earrings, pearl pendants, rings with a mask in high relief reproducing a comic actor, typical Roman jewel. The Romans were the first to use the ring as a sign of engagement, while the serpent-shaped ring was typical of the city of Alexandria in Egypt where the snake was linked to the cult of Isis and Serapis, introduced in Rome in 48 BC.
Pliny describes Lollia Paolina with a touch of disapproval, because "... covered with emeralds and pearls ... with resplendent jewels on her head, hair, neck, ears and fingers ..." (Pliny, Natural History) .
Coming mainly from Egyptian mines, emeralds were much desired "... for many reasons, but certainly because of no color the appearance is more pleasant ....

 

Emeralds, mostly from Egyptian mines, garnets and jasper are very popular.
Gold is used much more than silver and poor materials such as bronze. Exceptions are necklaces and hair pins, often made of bronze or poor materials.

Most of the remains found are those of the Vesuvian buried cities that document how much goldsmith wealth was possessed in a provincial city by the middle classes alone, without taking into account the aristocrats. The jewels were widespread among the Roman women.

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